Age of Language
Language has been among us for a very long time and has developed to such an extent that it made it possible for us to communicate in ways that were never possible before. People throughout history have made various claims about the first-ever language which was spoken on earth. However, their claims and arguments are not based on categorical and decisive factors. Rather, they are based upon incomplete and biased research. For most people, however, it is unclear what the first-ever language to be spoken on the earth is. According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, based on written accounts, among the oldest languages found is Sumerian, of which there are written records found dating back to between 3000 – 3500 BC, but that, for sure, cannot be the world’s first language, because humans have been around for much longer. This article will demonstrate writings and claims of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and the research of an eminent scholar, Hazrat Mohammad Ahmad Mazhar raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" who worked in the service of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", to prove that the first language and the Mother of all languages is Arabic and that all other languages have been derived therefrom.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him", based on divine revelation, has made the claim that the Mother of all Languages is the Arabic language. He has also provided powerful and categorical evidence in support of this claim. A renowned Philologist, Hazrat Muhammad Ahmad Mazhar raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" has contributed immensely to the work of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" He studied various languages and traced them to their Arabic Root-Words. One of his works is titled ‘Sumerian, Akkadian, Bantu traced back to Arabic’. In this book, he has established that Sumerian is a language derived from the Arabic Language.
Hazrat Muhammad Ahmad Mazhar raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" states:
“…It is apparent from the above that Sumerian inscriptions are the oldest and the Arabic inscriptions are comparatively later. However this is quite natural because the Arabs were called Ummi (illiterate people), and they learnt the art of writing in a much later period of history. In any case, the inscriptions or manuscripts are not a decisive factor in fixing the age of a language which must have existed long before it was inscribed or written down.”(English traced back to Arabic, November 1967, Page 11)
A leading linguist has rightly remarked:
“All language is primarily spoken and only secondarily written down, so the real life of language is in the mouth and ear, and not in the pen and eye.”(Jens Otto Harry Jespersen, Language, 2018 edition, P.19)
It seems that academics and professionals are still not entirely sure of how old language actually is, but some have suggested that spoken language emerged approximately between 100,000 years ago and 60,000 years ago (Anderson, Stephen, 2012, Languages: A Very Short Introduction). The origin of language and its evolutionary emergence in the human species have been subjects of speculation for several centuries. The topic is difficult to study because of the lack of direct evidence. In the following paragraphs, languages will be discussed about which it is believed by some to be the Mother of Languages, meaning that they are languages about which it is believed that all other languages have emerged therefrom. Hindus hold the view that Sanskrit is the Mother of all Languages, meaning that it is the language from which all other languages emerged. However, there is very little to no evidence to support this claim. Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3500- year history. It is one of the official languages of India and is popularly known as a classical language of the country. Considered by some to be the Mother of all Languages, the meaning of Sanskrit is refined, decorated, or produced in perfect form. The language is also known for its clarity and beauty. It is also a language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is said that Brahma was the creator and introduced the Sanskrit language. The earliest form of Sanskrit language was Vedic Sanskrit that came approximately around 1500-2000 B.C.
Sanskrit has also influenced the languages of India that grew from its vocabulary and grammatical base. Words originating in Sanskrit are estimated at roughly fifty percent of the vocabulary of modern Indo-Aryan languages. According to William Wang and Chaofen Sun Buddhist Sanskrit has had a considerable influence on East Asian languages such as Chinese. Many words have been adopted from Sanskrit into Chinese, both in its historic religious discourse and everyday use. The Chinese language and culture influenced the rest of East Asia, the ideas in Sanskrit texts and some of its linguistic elements migrated further.William S.-Y. Wang; Chaofen Sun (2015), The Oxford Handbook of Chinese Linguistics Sanskrit has also, to some extent, influenced Sino-Tibetan languages. However there are many languages recorded long before the advent of Sanskrit and in fact, no language is a direct descendant of Sanskrit. There may have been influence to some extent, but its influence, without doubt, is not such that it can be said that all other languages are derived from this language. It will further be shown that Sanskrit does not come near to the influence and comprehensiveness of Arabic. The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" states in answer to the claim that Sanskrit is the only revealed language of God and all others are inventions:
‘Some ignorant Aryas, holding Sanskrit as the language of Permeshwar, consider all other languages, which comprise of hundreds of Divine wonders and curiosities, as the invention of man; as if while Permeshwar revealed one language, men invented scores of languages better than that one. We would inquire from the Aryas that if it is true that Sanskrit was issued from the mouth of Permeshwar, and all other languages are the inventions of men and have no relationship with Permeshwar, what are the particular characteristics of Sanskrit which are not to be found in other languages; for the speech of Permeshwar must have superiority over the inventions of men. He is called God because He is Matchless and Supreme in His Being, attributes and works… If we are to suppose that Sanskrit is the language of Permeshwar, which was revealed to the ancestors of the Hindus, and that other languages were invented by the ancestors of other people who were cleverer and wiser than the ancestors of the Hindus, then could we also suppose that those other people were somewhat superior to Permeshwar of the Hindus in that they, through their perfect power, invented hundreds of languages and Permeshwar could invent no more than one? The objection as to why God did not content Himself with the creation of just one language, results from lack of reflection. If a wise person were to observe the diversity of modes and temperaments of people of different countries, he would be convinced that one language would not have suited all of them. The people of some countries can easily pronounce certain letters and words, but for the people of some other countries the pronouncing of those letters and words would be a great hardship. How was it then possible that the All-Wise One, loving only one language, should have ignored the principle of: وضع الشيء في موضعه (putting a thing in its proper place) and should have abandoned that which would have been appropriate for the diversity of temperaments.’(Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khazain, vol. 1, pp. 447-456)
A claim made by Muthuvel Karunanidhi, an Indian writer, and politician, is that Tamil is the Mother of all Languages. Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka. Tamil is an official language in three countries: India, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. In India, it is the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Furthermore, Tamil is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia. Tamil is believed to be one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world. A piece of Tamil literature has been documented for over 2000 years. The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from ca. 300 BC-AD 300. Among Indian languages, Tamil has the most ancient non-Sanskritic Indian literature. Words of Tamil origin occur in other languages as well. There are for example some loanwords found in English, Malay, Mauritian Creole, and Sinhala. However, its influence is very limited and Tamil only influenced some particular languages. To say in conclusion that it is the Mother of all Languages would be a great exaggeration and is based on false claims and some etymologies of random words in different languages. People who are not trained in linguistics or who do not think rationally or critically easily fall prey to these ‘arguments’. It will further be shown that Tamil does not even come near to the influence and comprehensiveness of Arabic.
The aim of several scholars during the Renaissance and later under the sponsorship of several monarchs, such as James IV of Scotland, was to establish Hebrew as the mother of all languages.Norman Berdichevsky, 22 May 2000, The Influence of Hebrew on other Languages They believed that Hebrew was the original source from which all other languages developed. Hebrew, like Arabic, is one of the Semitic languages, a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East.
In the Middle Ages, various Jewish commentators held the view that Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" spoke Hebrew. In the early modern period, some authors continued to discuss the possibility of an Adamic language, some continuing to hold to the idea that it was Hebrew. Traditional Jewish exegesis such as Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 38) says that Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" spoke the Hebrew language because the names he gave Eve – Isha (Book of Genesis 2:23) and Chava (Genesis 3:20) – only make sense in Hebrew. Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and Eve are widely believed to be the first two people on earth, especially by Christians. However, according to the Holy Qur’an, Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" was not the first person to live on the earth as the word used in relation to him in the Holy Qur’an is خليفة meaning ‘successor’ (Chapter 2: Verse 31). Also, Archaeological discoveries lead us to believe that humans had inhabited various parts of the world before much before the advent of Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". This is, however, contradictory to the statement of the Bible that Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" was the first man created on earth (Genesis 1:26 to 2:8). This is one of the pronouncements of the Bible, which being in conflict with Science, has cast doubts in the minds of its followers about its authenticity or the very existence of God’s revelation and has consequently turned them into atheists and agnostics. When it is established that Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and Eve were not the first people to live on earth it can be said that the people before them must have spoken other languages before them.
The need to express scientific and philosophical concepts from Classical Greek and Medieval Arabic motivated Medieval Hebrew to borrow terminology and grammar from other languages, or to coin equivalent terms from existing Hebrew roots, giving rise to a distinct style of philosophical Hebrew. Original Jewish philosophical works were usually written in Arabic. Also, most of the writings of Maimonides’, a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher, were in Arabic. New words and expressions were adapted as neologisms from the large corpus of Hebrew writings since the Hebrew Bible was borrowed from Arabic. How could one then possibly claim that Hebrew is the Mother of all Languages? It will further on be shown that Hebrew does not even come near to the influence and comprehensiveness of Arabic. It is true that Hebrew, for example, in comparison to many other languages is much nearer to Arabic. This could lead to the allegation of how this could be possible when Arabic indeed is the Mother of every single language. The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" writes the following in response to this allegation:
‘Some people raise the objection that the relationship of some languages with Arabic, for instance that of Hebrew, is much closer than that of other languages like Sanskrit or European languages. The answer is that despite this difference it has been ascertained that the elementary words and phrases of these languages have been derived from Arabic and have been further developed through natural changes.’(Essence of Islam, Vol II, Page 11)
Arabic is a Semitic language belonging to the same family as Hebrew. The influence of the Arabic language has been much greater than all of the above-mentioned languages. The languages mentioned above do not possess the characteristics that the first and perfect language should possess, neither are its roots as rich and comprehensive in meaning. However Arabic does possess these qualities which will be discussed further on. Arabic has influenced many languages throughout its history and is an important source of vocabulary for languages such as Amharic, Baluchi, Bengali, Berber, Bosnian, Chaldean, Chechen, Croatian, Dagestani, English, German, Gujarati, Hausa, Hindi, Kazakh, Kurdish, Kutchi, Kyrgyz, Malay (Malaysian and Indonesian), Pashto, Persian, Punjabi, Rohingya, Romance languages (French, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Sicilian, Spanish, etc.) Saraiki, Sindhi, Somali, Sylheti, Swahili, Tagalog, Tigrinya, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu, Uyghur, Uzbek, Visayan, and Wolof, as well as other languages in countries where these languages are spoken.
Hazrat Mohammad Ahmad Mazhar raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" states: ‘Hence it (Arabic) is the oldest and the first language. The structure of Arabic roots is so unparalleled that it is impossible that Arabic could itself have been derived from any other language… according to the Holy Qur’an language is as old as the creation of man: “He has created man and taught him plain speech” (The Holy Qur’an 55:45)’(English traced back to Arabic, November 1967, Page 12)
Also according to the Bible there used to be only one language in the beginning:
‘Everyone on earth had the same language and the same words.’(Genesis 11:1)
Hazrat Mohammad Ahmad Mazhar raabbreviation for "May Allah be pleased with him/her/them" in his 20 years of continuous hard work with the object of vindicating the claim of the Holy Qur’an that Arabic is the ultimate source of all the languages, has traced back all of the following languages to Arabic: Tarahumara, French, Greek, Persian, Punjabi, Marathi, Indonesian, Russian, German, Italian, Aryan Roots, Nepali, Pali, Chinese, Swedish, Spanish, Swahili, Sanskrit, Telugu, Nepali, Japanese, Dutch, Latin, Luganda, Hindi, Gujarati, Tibetan, Akkadian, Sumerian, Egyptian, Ateso, Runyankore Rukiga. He established with clear proof that all of these languages are originated from Arabic.
During the Middle Ages, Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in Europe, especially in science, mathematics, and philosophy. As a result, many European languages have also borrowed many words from it. Arabic influence is seen in European languages, for example in Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan—owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arab civilizations and almost 800 years of Arabic culture and language present in the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in Arabic as al-Andalus. The Maltese language is a Semitic language developed from a dialect of Arabic and written in the Latin alphabet. The Balkan languages, including Greek and Bulgarian, have also acquired a significant number of Arabic words through contact with Ottoman Turkish. In short, the Arabic language has had such a great influence on all of these languages in many different ways and forms.
In May 1895, the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" wrote a treatise titled Minan-ur-Rahman, which is a brief treatise on Philology by the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". In this treatise, the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" claimed that Arabic was the first language taught to man by God Himself and the Mother of all languages. He highlighted certain peculiarities of the Arabic language, which he claimed could not be found in any other language, and challenged his adversaries to refute his claim. The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" describes the system of Mufradaat (the simples or the roots of words) in the Arabic Language and that it has a unique scientific organization and a system, unknown in any other language which will be explained further on.
The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" states:
‘In contrast with Arabic words, the words of other languages appear lame, maimed, blind, deaf and leprous, and entirely bereft of a natural pattern. The vocabulary of those languages is not rich in roots, which is a necessary characteristic of a perfect language…. If any Arya or other challenger of ours is not convinced by our research, we wish to inform him by means of this announcement that we have set out in this book, in detail, the reasons in support of the superiority, perfection and excellence of Arabic which fall under the following headings: (1) The perfect pattern of the roots of Arabic words. (2) Arabic possesses an extraordinarily high degree of intellectual connotations. (3) The system of elementary words in Arabic is most complete and perfect. (4) In Arabic idiom, a few words convey extensive meanings. (5) Arabic has the full capacity for the exposition of all human feelings and thoughts. ‘Now everyone is at liberty after the publication of our book to try, if possible, to prove these qualities in Sanskrit or any other language.’(Dia-ul-Haq, Ruhani Khazain, vol. 9, p. 250,320-321)
First Characteristic: Arabic has a complete organised structure of roots, that is to say, the roots meet fully all the needs of human beings in the field of expression; Other languages lack this pattern. For example, the root which is used for ‘writing’ in Arabic is كتب (kataba) – this form translates into ‘he wrote’. The same root with a bit more of an emphasis on the ‘t’:كَتّبَ (kattaba) becomes ‘he made (someone) write’. Then, just by prolonging the ‘a’ sound: كاتب (kaataba) it becomes ‘he corresponded with, wrote to (someone)’. Then, by adding an ‘a’ sound in the beginning: أَكْتَبَ (aktaba) it becomes ‘he dictated’. Then: تَكَاتَبَ (takaataba) means ‘he corresponded (with someone, esp. mutually)’, اِكْتَتَبَ (iktataba) ‘he copied’ and at last اِسْتَكْتَبَ (istaktaba) meaning ‘he asked (someone) to write’. One can clearly see that in Arabic by small changes in the root, it gives such a big variety of meanings. From the above examples it also becomes visible that in English, for example, many words have to be used to convey the same message as is done in Arabic by a simple change of one or two vowels or letters.
Second Characteristic: The names of God, and of heavenly bodies, vegetables, animals, solids, and human limbs, the words which are used in this respect in Arabic comprise great wisdom. Other languages cannot compete with Arabic in this respect. One example of which is as follows:
‘For instance the word مربى in its obvious sense, means the Sustainer. Now the truth about perfection as a sustainer is that all departments and branches whether physical or spiritual, or of the category of powers and faculties, of the created human being, should be fed and sustained. This process of sustenance should extend to the highest demands of the physical and spiritual development of men. Likewise, the point where humanity is clothed with a descriptive name or which constitutes the preliminaries of human creation where human outlines or the outlines of some other creation start moving from oblivion towards a state of being, at that point too, the unfolding process is indebted to the attribute of sustenance. This shows that according to Arabic usage, the quality of sustaining embraces a very wide connotation.’(Minan-ur-Rahman, Page 45)
Third Characteristic: The Arabic system of elementary words is perfect, and comprises all nouns and verbs of the same roots, and illustrates their mutual relationship by arranging them in a wise pattern. This characteristic is not found in other languages to the same perfect degree. For example: the root درس (darasa) means ‘to study’. If one adds an ‘a’ sound in the beginning it becomes مدرس (mudarris) meaning ‘a teacher’. Then, by adding an ‘a’ sound at the end it becomes مدرسة (madrasa) meaning ‘a school’. Another example is the word نفق (nafaq) which translates into ‘a tunnel’. From the same root comes the word منافق (munafiq) which translates into ‘a two-faced person’ or ‘hypocrite’. Now, a common person would ask what could possibly be the relation between a tunnel and a two-faced person. However, it is quite clear because a tunnel has two sides and so does a hypocrite have two faces. Then, another example is the root قلب (qalaba) meaning ‘to overthrow’ or ‘to topple’. From this root comes the word قلب (qalb) which means ‘a heart’. As the heart circulates or as it were ‘overthrows’ the blood in the human body it only makes sense that the word used for ‘a heart’ comes from the root ‘to overthrow’ or ‘to topple’. The verb إنقلب (inqalaba) also comes from this root and means ‘to be inverted’ or ‘to be reversed’. From the same root comes also the word انقلاب (inqilaab) meaning ‘a revolution’ or ‘an inversion’. The meaning of a revolution is ‘the overthrow of a government or social order’. One can clearly see that there is a clear relationship between these words: to overthrow, a revolution, and a heart. These words come from a single root in the Arabic language. However in English, for example, all of these words have no relation between them at all. It can clearly be seen that there is great wisdom behind the Arabic patterns, of which these are just a few examples. The Arabic language is full of these arranged patterns with great wisdom behind them and no language can possibly compete with it.
Fourth Characteristic: In Arabic idiom, a few words comprise extensive meanings. Arabic conveys extensive connotations through the use of the definite article and vowel points and sequence, for which other languages have to employ several phrases and sentences. The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" described the five peculiarities of Arabic and claimed, all other languages of man, were derived from Arabic. He explained, in the Arabic language, even the lonely alphabets (a, b, c, etc.) at times manifest full and extensive meanings. Some of which are: فِ (fi) ‘Be faithful’, قِ (qi) ‘Keep an eye on’, لِ (li) ‘Come nearer’, عِ (‘I’) ‘Call to mind’, اِ (‘I’) ‘Promise’ and many more. The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" goes on explaining that sometimes even small single words give extensive meanings. For example عرضت (araztu) means: “I have roamed about Makkah, Madina, and all the habitations around them.”, طهفلت (tahfaltu) means: “I eat and have determined always to eat Millet bread .” حي على (Haya-ala) means: “Come; Pray! It is the proper time.” These are beautiful examples that show the extensiveness and completeness of the Arabic language unknown in other languages. Many more such examples can be found in Arabic and no language can compete with it.
Fifth Characteristic: Arabic possesses such roots and idioms as furnish a perfect means for the expression of the most subtle of human thoughts and reflections. This can, in fact, be seen in every aspect of the Arabic language. The Arabic language has roots and patterns that one becomes able to express himself better than in any other language. As has already been established before Arabic possesses words with very extensive meanings which makes expressing oneself much clearer and easier. Also, in Arabic, the forms of verbs are such that with the slightest change in vowel or letter one can say something which would require multiple words in any other language. Thus in Arabic one can express himself plain and clear and therefore the Book of God, the Holy Qur’an has also been revealed in Arabic. The Holy Qur’an uses figurative devices in order to express the meaning in the most beautiful form possible.
As the Holy Qur’an itself states:
لِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُبِينٍ
‘In plain and clear Arabic tongue.’The Holy Qur’an (26:196)
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
‘We have revealed it, the Qur’an in Arabic, that you may understand.’The Holy Qur’an (12:3)
It is stated in relation to the verses above:
‘The word عرب from which عربي is a relative noun conveys the sense of fullness, abundance and clearness and the Arabic language is so called because its roots are innumerable full of meaning and because also it is most expressive, eloquent and comprehensive. It possesses suitable words and phrases for the full expression of all sorts of ideas and shades of meanings and being complete in respect of its roots it can discuss any topic with a precision and thoroughness unmatched in any other language. It was therefore natural and quite in the fitness of things that the Arabic language should have been selected as the vehicle for the revelation of the last and most perfect Divine Message for all mankind.’(Five Volume Commentary of the Holy Qur’an, Page 2378)
The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" states:
‘Further and deeper study establishes that the mother of all these related languages is Arabic, from which all these languages have emerged. A complete and comprehensive research then discloses that its extraordinary qualities compel the acknowledgement that Arabic is not only the mother of tongues but is a revealed language which the first man was taught by the special design of God Almighty, and that it was not invented by any man. This leads to the conclusion that Arabic alone is suited for the complete and perfect Divine revelation, inasmuch as it is necessary that the Divine Book that has been revealed for the guidance of the whole of mankind should be expressed in a revealed language which should be the mother of tongues so that it should have a natural relationship with every language and the speakers of every language, and that being revealed it should possess the blessings with which everything that proceeds from the blessed hands of God Almighty is invested. But as the other languages were also not progeny of this language, it was not inappropriate that for particular people guidance should have been revealed in those languages. Yet it was necessary that the highest and most perfect Book should be revealed in Arabic because Arabic is the mother of tongues and is the true revealed language, having issued from the mouth of God Almighty.’(Essence of Islam, Vol II, Page 7)
The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" further states:
‘Our perfect and deep research has revealed that Arabic is that language. Many people have spent their lives in such research and have made great efforts to discover which language is the mother of tongues, but as their efforts were not rightly directed, nor were they bestowed the relevant capacity by God Almighty, they could not achieve success. An additional reason was that they were prejudiced against Arabic and did not pay due attention to it. Thus, they failed to discover the truth. Now we have been guided by the Holy Word of God Almighty, the Holy Qur’an, to the truth that the mother of tongues, to which the Parsees, the Hebrews and the Aryas have laid separate claims, is Arabic, and that all other claimants are in error….’
“…If we should be proved false in our claim that Arabic possesses those five characteristics to a special degree, and any scholar of Sanskrit or any other language should succeed in proving that their language partakes of these characteristics to the same or even to a greater degree than Arabic, then we make a firm and definite promise that we shall immediately pay him five thousand rupees….”(The Essence of Islam, Vol II, Page 4-5 and 12)
It becomes clear that the Arabic language is so comprehensive and perfect that it had to be this language chosen for the Perfect Book, the Holy Qur’an, for a perfect book cannot be considered perfect without it possessing a perfect language. It is the first language, the Mother of all Languages, and revealed by God the Almighty Himself. Such clear and categorical proofs have been provided by the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" that it would be impossible to come forth with a language that could compete with the Arabic language.